50 Essential Feminist Films

It’s no secret that the numbers surrounding women in cinema are dismal. Melissa Silverstein’s Women and Hollywood recently reported that only 74 of the 271 people invited to join the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences this year were women. We also know that for every 15 or so male directors, there is just one female director. At the same time, filmmakers of all genders continue to explore new representations of women in cinema. We thought it was time to revisit some essential feminist films (a few classics and several, perhaps, unexpected picks) that deconstruct gender identity, explore issues pertinent to women and their history, and challenge the patriarchy. These films, directed by women and men, have broadened the scope of female representation in cinema.


Photo by Ifc Films/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

50. The Punk Singer, Sini Anderson

An intimate portrait of feminist art-punk activist icon Kathleen Hanna, the frontwoman of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and The Julie Ruin, and one of the founders of the riot grrrl movement of the 1990s. Interviews from Kim Gordon, Joan Jett, and other cultural compatriots build the lineage of feminism — striking a compelling balance “between history and personality.”